Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci 2022; 26 (1): 183-197

DOI: 10.26355/eurrev_202201_27767

A review on the forensic toxicology of global drug-facilitated sexual assaults

K. Skov, S.S. Johansen, K. Linnet, M.K.K. Nielsen

Department of Forensic Medicine, Section of Forensic Chemistry, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark. kathrine.skov@sund.ku.dk


OBJECTIVE: Drug-facilitated sexual assault (DFSA) is an act of sexual violence towards a victim who is incapacitated due to the voluntary or involuntary consumption of intoxicating substances. Sexual assaults are generally considered underreported and the toxicological analysis of DFSA cases is particularly challenging when there is a time delay from assault to medical examination. The aim of this review was to investigate typical toxicological findings in global DFSA cases and describe a typical DFSA case.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: A database search was conducted in PubMed using relevant search terms in order to identify studies reporting toxicological results in DFSA cases.

RESULTS: In total, 22 studies were included, covering toxicological findings in DFSA cases in North America, Europe, Asia, South Africa and Australasia from 1996 to 2018. Biological matrices used for analysis included blood, urine and hair. Toxicological findings were comparable among countries, with ethanol, cocaine, cannabis, benzodiazepines, amphetamines and analgesics being among the most frequently detected substances. Ethanol was frequently detected in combination with one or more drugs. A variety of benzodiazepines were observed, with the most common being diazepam, clonazepam, alprazolam, and oxazepam. The majority of cases involved women (87%-100%).

CONCLUSIONS: The findings suggest that a diverse range of substances are associated with DFSA and that victims are rendered vulnerable through recreational substance consumption at social events. As such, typical DFSA cases appear to be opportunistic in nature and primarily involves women in their mid-twenties and an acquaintance as the perpetrator.

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To cite this article

K. Skov, S.S. Johansen, K. Linnet, M.K.K. Nielsen
A review on the forensic toxicology of global drug-facilitated sexual assaults

Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci
Year: 2022
Vol. 26 - N. 1
Pages: 183-197
DOI: 10.26355/eurrev_202201_27767